How To Cook Charcoal Steak?

If you want to elevate your grilling game, mastering the art of cooking a charcoal steak is a must. The distinctive flavor and perfect char that can only be achieved with charcoal make it a go-to technique for steak enthusiasts.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps of cooking a juicy, tender, and flavorful charcoal steak that will leave you and your guests craving for more. So, strap on your apron, fire up the grill, and let’s dive into the world of charcoal cooking!

First and foremost, choosing the right cut of steak is crucial for a successful charcoal grilling experience. Look for well-marbled cuts like ribeye, New York strip, or filet mignon that are about 1-1.5 inches thick. The marbling will ensure rich flavor and tenderness when cooked over charcoal.

Before grilling, it’s essential to season your steak generously with salt and pepper or your favorite dry rub. This will enhance the natural flavors of the meat and create a delectable crust when seared over the charcoal grill.

Now, let’s get the fire started! Prepare your charcoal grill by arranging the charcoal in a two-zone fire, with one side having more coals for high heat and the other side having fewer coals for indirect heat.

This setup allows for both searing and gentle cooking, giving you more control over the steak’s doneness.

how to cook charcoal steak

Best Cuts of Steak for Charcoal Cooking

When it comes to cooking steak, nothing beats the flavor and smoky goodness that charcoal grilling can provide. The high heat and unique flavor profile of charcoal can elevate even the most mediocre cuts of meat.

However, if you want to take your grilling game to the next level, it’s essential to choose the right cut of steak. In this section, we will explore some of the best cuts of steak for charcoal cooking.

1. Ribeye

The ribeye is often regarded as one of the best cuts of steak for grilling, regardless of the cooking method. It is known for its rich marbling, which adds flavor and tenderness to the meat.

When cooked over charcoal, the fat renders and caramelizes, creating a mouthwatering crust. The high heat of the charcoal grill also helps to melt the fat, resulting in a juicy and flavorful steak.

2. T-bone

The T-bone steak is a classic choice for grilling enthusiasts. It consists of two different cuts of beef—the tenderloin and the strip steak—separated by a T-shaped bone.

This cut offers the best of both worlds, with the tenderness of the tenderloin and the robust flavor of the strip steak. When cooked over charcoal, the T-bone steak develops a charred crust and a succulent, juicy interior.

3. Porterhouse

The porterhouse steak is similar to the T-bone steak, but it has a larger portion of the tenderloin. This makes it an excellent choice for those who prefer a more tender steak.

The porterhouse is known for its generous marbling, which results in a rich and flavorful eating experience. When cooked over charcoal, the porterhouse steak develops a beautiful sear and a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

4. Striploin (New York Strip)

The striploin, also known as the New York strip, is a popular choice among steak lovers. It is a well-marbled cut of beef that offers a good balance of tenderness and flavor.

The striploin is known for its robust beefy taste and satisfying texture. When cooked over charcoal, it develops a flavorful crust while retaining its juicy interior.

5. Filet Mignon

If tenderness is your priority, then filet mignon is the cut for you. This cut comes from the tenderloin, which is one of the most tender muscles of the animal.

It has a subtle flavor but makes up for it with its buttery texture. When cooked over charcoal, the filet mignon develops a delicious crust while maintaining its tender interior.

Grilling steak over charcoal can take your culinary skills to new heights. By choosing the right cut of meat, you can ensure a memorable and mouthwatering dining experience.

Whether you prefer the rich marbling of a ribeye or the tenderness of a filet mignon, there is a perfect cut of steak for charcoal cooking. So fire up your grill, grab your favorite cut of steak, and get ready to enjoy a delicious meal.

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Preparing the Charcoal Grill for Cooking Steak

Grilling a juicy and flavorful steak on a charcoal grill is a delightful experience for any meat lover. However, before you can start cooking, there are a few essential steps you need to take to ensure that your charcoal grill is properly prepared.

In this section, we will guide you through the process of preparing your charcoal grill for cooking steak.

Gather the Necessary Supplies

Before you begin preparing your charcoal grill, gather all the necessary supplies. You will need the following:

  • Charcoal briquettes
  • Lighter fluid or chimney starter
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Grill brush
  • Tongs or spatula
  • Paper towels or cloth
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Clean the Grill Grates

The first step in preparing your charcoal grill is to clean the grill grates. Use a grill brush to remove any leftover food particles or debris from the previous grilling sessions. This will ensure that your steak cooks evenly and does not stick to the grates.

Arrange and Light the Charcoal

Next, arrange the charcoal briquettes in a pyramid shape at the center of the grill. Leave some space around the edges for indirect heat cooking if desired.

If you are using lighter fluid, carefully squirt it onto the charcoal, following the instructions on the bottle. Let the lighter fluid soak into the briquettes for a few minutes.

If you prefer a more natural method, you can use a chimney starter. Fill the chimney starter with charcoal briquettes and place it on the grill grates.

Use a crumpled newspaper or paraffin cube to light the charcoal from the bottom. Allow the charcoal to heat up for about 15-20 minutes until it turns grayish-white and ashed over.

Spread the Charcoal and Adjust the Grates

Once the charcoal is ready, carefully spread it evenly across the bottom of the grill. If you want to have different heat zones for searing and indirect cooking, create two separate areas with more charcoal for high heat and fewer coals for lower heat.

After spreading the charcoal, adjust the grill grates to the desired height. For high-heat searing, lower the grates closer to the charcoal. For indirect cooking, raise the grates to a higher level.

Preheat the Grill

Allow the charcoal grill to preheat for at least 10-15 minutes with the lid closed. This will ensure that the grates are hot enough for a perfect sear and prevent the steak from sticking.

Clean and Oil the Grates

Before placing the steak on the grill, it is essential to clean and oil the grates. Dip a folded paper towel or cloth in vegetable oil and use tongs to rub it over the grates. This will create a non-stick surface and prevent the steak from sticking to the grill.

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Seasoning Tips for Flavorful Charcoal Steak

When it comes to grilling a delicious steak, one of the key factors that can take your dish to the next level is the seasoning. A well-seasoned charcoal steak not only enhances the flavor but also adds depth and complexity to the meat.

Whether you are a seasoned grill master or a beginner, these seasoning tips will help you create a flavorful charcoal steak that will impress your family and friends.

1. Salt and Pepper

The foundation of any good seasoning for a charcoal steak is a simple combination of salt and pepper. These two basic ingredients work together to enhance the natural flavors of the meat.

Before grilling, generously season both sides of the steak with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. The salt will help to tenderize the meat while the pepper adds a subtle kick.

2. Garlic and Onion Powder

If you want to add an extra layer of flavor to your charcoal steak, consider incorporating garlic and onion powder into your seasoning. These aromatic powders provide a savory depth to the meat.

Sprinkle a small amount of garlic and onion powder on both sides of the steak, ensuring an even distribution. Be careful not to use too much, as these powders can easily overpower the other flavors.

3. Smoked Paprika

For a smoky and slightly sweet flavor, smoked paprika is an excellent addition to your charcoal steak seasoning. This spice adds depth and complexity to the meat, giving it a distinct taste.

Sprinkle a moderate amount of smoked paprika on both sides of the steak, allowing the flavors to infuse into the meat as it cooks on the charcoal grill.

4. Herbs and Spices

Experimenting with different herbs and spices is a great way to elevate the flavor profile of your charcoal steak. Some popular options include rosemary, thyme, oregano, cumin, and chili powder.

Feel free to mix and match these herbs and spices according to your personal preference. Create your own unique blend that complements the natural flavors of the meat.

5. Marinades

If you want to take your charcoal steak to the next level, consider marinating it before grilling. Marinating helps to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavors.

You can make a simple marinade using ingredients like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Allow the steak to marinate for at least 30 minutes to overnight, depending on the desired intensity of flavor.

6. Resting Time

Once your charcoal steak is done grilling, it is essential to let it rest for a few minutes before cutting into it. This resting time allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful steak.

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Cover the steak loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

By following these seasoning tips, you can create a flavorful and delicious charcoal steak that will leave your taste buds craving for more. Experiment with different combinations and find your perfect blend of seasonings.

With a little practice and a lot of flavor, you’ll be grilling the best charcoal steak in no time!

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Achieving the Perfect Charcoal Grilled Steak

Grilling a steak over charcoal is an art form that can result in a perfectly cooked, juicy and flavorful meal. With the right techniques and a few tips, you can achieve that coveted smoky flavor and delicious sear on your steak.

In this section, we will guide you through the steps to cook the perfect charcoal grilled steak.

Choosing the Right Cut of Steak

The first step to achieving the perfect charcoal grilled steak is choosing the right cut of meat. Different cuts have different levels of tenderness and fat content, which can affect the grilling process and the final result.

Some popular cuts for grilling include ribeye, T-bone, and strip steak. These cuts are known for their marbling, which adds flavor and tenderness to the meat.

Preparing the Steak

Before grilling the steak, it is essential to properly prepare it. Start by patting the steak dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture, as this can prevent a good sear.

Next, season the steak generously with salt and pepper or your favorite steak seasoning. Allow the steak to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before grilling, as this helps it cook more evenly.

Setting Up the Charcoal Grill

Now it’s time to set up your charcoal grill. Start by cleaning the grill grates and removing any residue from previous grilling sessions.

Then, arrange the charcoal briquettes in a pyramid shape in the center of the grill. If you prefer a more smoky flavor, you can add some wood chips or chunks to the charcoal.

Next, carefully light the charcoal using a chimney starter or lighter fluid. Once the charcoal has turned ashy gray, spread it evenly across the bottom of the grill. Place the grill grates back on the grill, close the lid, and allow it to preheat for about 10-15 minutes.

Grilling the Steak

Now comes the exciting part – grilling the steak! It’s essential to have the right temperature and timing to achieve the desired level of doneness. For a charcoal grill, you can use the hand test method to determine the heat level.

Hold your hand about 5 inches above the grill grate – if you can only hold it for about 2-3 seconds, the heat is high; for 4-5 seconds, it’s medium heat; and for 6-7 seconds, it’s low heat.

Place the seasoned steak directly over the hottest part of the grill, usually above the charcoal. Allow it to sear for 2-3 minutes without moving it, then use tongs to flip the steak and sear the other side for another 2-3 minutes. This will create a flavorful caramelized crust on the steak.

Once the steak is seared on both sides, move it to a cooler part of the grill to continue cooking. This indirect heat will help cook the steak evenly without burning the exterior.

Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the steak. The ideal temperature for medium-rare is around 135°F (57°C).

Resting and Serving the Steak

After grilling, it’s crucial to let the steak rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and tender steak.

Place the steak on a cutting board, tent it loosely with aluminum foil, and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Once rested, slice the steak against the grain to maximize tenderness. Serve it with your favorite sides and enjoy the delicious, perfectly grilled steak!

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Tasty Side Dishes to Pair with Charcoal Steak

When it comes to grilling steak, nothing beats the smoky flavor and perfectly charred exterior you get from cooking it over charcoal.

The rich, intense flavors of a charcoal steak are best complemented by delicious side dishes that enhance the overall dining experience. If you’re looking to elevate your steakhouse-style meal, here are some mouth-watering side dishes that pair perfectly with charcoal steak:

1. Grilled Vegetables

No steak meal is complete without some grilled vegetables on the side. The flame-kissed char and smoky flavor of grilled vegetables complement the robust taste of a charcoal steak.

You can opt for a medley of vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, and asparagus. Season them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and grill them until they’re tender and slightly charred. The combination of grilled veggies and charcoal steak is a match made in culinary heaven.

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2. Classic Baked Potatoes

A juicy charcoal steak pairs perfectly with a classic baked potato. The contrast of the crispy skin and fluffy interior of a baked potato adds a delightful textural element to your meal. To make the perfect baked potatoes, start by scrubbing them clean and pricking them with a fork.

Rub them with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, and wrap them in foil. Grill them over indirect heat until they’re tender. Serve them with sour cream, chives, and a pat of butter for a comforting and delicious side dish.

3. Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

If you’re a fan of mashed potatoes, then creamy garlic mashed potatoes are a must-try with your charcoal steak. The velvety smooth texture and the savory garlic flavor complement the rich and bold flavors of the steak.

To make creamy garlic mashed potatoes, boil peeled potatoes until they’re fork-tender. Drain them and mash them with butter, milk, roasted garlic, salt, and pepper. You can even add some grated Parmesan cheese for an extra burst of flavor.

4. Crispy Onion Rings

The crunchy texture and savory taste of crispy onion rings add a delightful contrast to the juicy and tender charcoal steak. To make crispy onion rings, slice onions into thick rings and separate the layers. Dredge the onion rings in a mixture of flour, salt, and spices, and then dip them into a buttermilk and egg mixture.

Finally, coat them in seasoned breadcrumbs and deep fry them until golden brown. Serve them alongside your steak for a satisfying and delicious side dish.

5. Tangy Coleslaw

A refreshing and tangy coleslaw is a great side dish to balance the richness of a charcoal steak. The crunch of the cabbage and the tangy dressing provide a refreshing bite that cuts through the steak’s richness.

To make a simple coleslaw, shred cabbage and carrots, and toss them with a creamy dressing made from mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Let the flavors meld together in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving.

6. Grilled Corn on the Cob

Grilled corn on the cob is a classic side dish that pairs exceptionally well with charcoal steak. The sweetness and juiciness of the corn complement the smoky flavors of the steak.

To make grilled corn on the cob, remove the husks and silk from the corn and brush them with melted butter. Season them with salt and pepper, and grill them over medium heat until they’re slightly charred. Serve them with a knob of butter and a sprinkle of fresh herbs for an irresistible side dish.


1. How do I cook a charcoal steak?

To cook a charcoal steak, start by preheating your charcoal grill to high heat. Season the steak with salt, pepper, and any other desired seasonings.

Place the steak directly over the hot coals and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until desired doneness is reached. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 135°F (57°C) for medium-rare.

2. Should I marinate the steak before grilling?

Marinating the steak before grilling is optional, but it can add flavor and tenderness. If you choose to marinate, do so for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Make sure to pat the steak dry before grilling to promote even browning.

3. How do I achieve a good sear on a charcoal steak?

To achieve a good sear on a charcoal steak, make sure the grill grates are clean and well-oiled before cooking. Place the steak directly over the hottest part of the charcoal fire to create a nice crust.

Avoid flipping the steak too frequently and allow it to cook undisturbed for a few minutes on each side to develop a beautiful sear.


In conclusion, learning how to cook charcoal steak can elevate your grilling game to new heights. The distinct smoky flavor and perfect char marks achieved through charcoal grilling add an extra layer of deliciousness to your steak.

By following the proper techniques, such as preheating the charcoal, positioning the steak correctly, and managing the heat, you can enjoy a juicy and flavorful charcoal steak that will impress your family and friends.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be discouraged if your first attempt isn’t flawless. Keep experimenting and refining your skills to become a grill master.

So, fire up your charcoal grill, select a high-quality cut of steak, and get ready to experience the mouthwatering delight of a perfectly grilled charcoal steak.

Whether you prefer a rare, medium, or well-done steak, the charcoal grilling technique provides you with endless possibilities to enjoy a steak cooked to your liking. Don’t forget to let your steak rest before slicing it to retain its juiciness and tenderness.

So, gather your loved ones, savor the flavor, and enjoy the satisfaction of mastering the art of cooking charcoal steak!

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